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U2 360 Tour Takes Shape At M&T

Like a monolith rising from the field at M&T Bank Stadium, U2 is in the house.

Posted by Mike Duffy on Tuesday, June 21st, 2011 at 5:18 pm | Categories: Mike Duffy
Concert Facts & Figures
  • Gates Open at 5 pm.
  • Permit parking opens at 2pm.
  • Cash parking available starting at 4pm in lots K, L and M.
  • Tickets are still available and can be purchased online at TicketMaster.com and in person at the M&T Bank Stadium Ticket Office.
  • Umbrellas are NOT permitted.
  • Show is Rain or Shine.
  • Cameras with lenses of 3 inches in length or less are permitted.
  • Video cameras and audio recorders are not allowed.

Fly over M&T Bank Stadium this week, and one could wonder whether aliens were attacking downtown Baltimore.

That’s how out-of-this world U2′s stage setup is for their highly-acclaimed 360° Tour, which hits Charm City Wednesday evening.

Opening in 2009 in Barcelona, the show has crisscrossed 30 countries and five continents in the ensuing years, bringing U2′s brand of passionate stadium rock to over 5 million fans.

And, the 360° Tour does it with a seemingly space-age performance that set the record for the most successful tour of all time.

Led by Tour Director Craig Evans, a massive team of workers has been assembling for days the four-legged steel set that reaches 90 feet above the field.  Nicknamed “The Claw,” there is also a central pylon that is 150 feet tall and a 360-degree video screen that stretches to 14,000 square feet.

“It takes one day to lay down the steel flooring system.  That’s unique in itself and necessary to support the weight.  It’s another four days to set up the steel systems, then sound, video and lights.  On the day of show, we have sound checks.

“It’s then another two days to dismantle the structure and take it out.”

All that work results in something music fans have never seen before. 

According to Evans, the idea for the innovative stage occurred in 2006 at the tail end of U2′s Vertigo Tour.  The band was out to dinner with longtime show director Willie Williams and the thought of a 360-degree stage came up.  Using dinner forks as a model, the initial sketch of 360° was born.

Evans called the entire process “very ambitious,” but it was a good way to interact more with the fans and “make the stadium feel smaller.”

When asked what Baltimore’s fans should look for when Bono and Co. take the stage, Evans emphasized the video screen, which will extend and retract throughout the night.

“The video screen is 54 tons, the largest touring video screen ever,” said Evans.  “When it extends in its expanding motion, it will go 68 feet high down to the stage level.  It’s quite an amazing visual opportunity.”

Unfortunately for those who want a glimpse into Wednesday’s setlist, however, Evans couldn’t predict that outcome.

Those attending the show will have to be patient to find out whether U2 breaks out the Ravens’ gameday entrance song, “Where the Streets Have No Name.”

Still, Evans does expect a local touch to the proceedings.

“The setlist always changes, and the band will not finalize their setlist until the evening of the show when they sit with the designers,” said Evans.  “It always has a local touch to it and a few songs that just have that local feel.  That comes from the band when it arrives in town and gets a feel for what’s going on.”

Note: With over 73,000 tickets currently sold, Evans confirmed that an extra 1,500 tickets were released to Ticketmaster Tuesday afternoon … Opening for U2 will be Florence and the Machine, a 2010 Grammy nominee for Best New Artist.

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